During a recent interview with The Cool Kids, Chuck Inglish likened Gary, Indiana to Detroit, calling the cities brothers. Speaking with Freddie Gibbs about his Indiana home town helped flesh out the observation. As laid out by Gibbs, Gary is a town in need of help, help he and his family are trying to provide.
By now you must know that Gibbs is a dude without a filter. He brings the same clear-eyed, hard-nosed approach to explaining his home town. His reveal about the sorry state of the Jackson family homestead is particularly shocking. Find out more below.
Complex: What surprises people about Gary?
Just how desolate Gary is, and that people still live there. As soon as we got in the van, my manager was like, “This is like a third world country.” And then his dude says, “This is like a fourth world country!” The economic breakdown in Gary is fucked up. When you go to places like Gary and Detroit, you see the economic problem in this country and who it’s really affecting.
I know the recession hit those places hard…
Yeah, there’s been a recession. [Laughs.]
Before it affected other places…
Yeah, before all of this bullshit and all of that, it’s been an economic issue, which leads to crime and other things.
You were saying that you’ve seen some shoot outs in some of those clubs?
I mean, anytime there's a big congregation of people in Gary, eight times out of ten there’s going to be some type of violent act.
Things going down at the club?
You can go there and see for yourself. You could see that there ain’t shit to do but fuck and fight. The smallest, slightest thing can make a person mad to the point where they want to go to their car and shoot you. They feel like they ain’t got nothing else to live for. There’s nothing there. They’re waking up everyday in them same 53 avenues and that shit will do something to your brain, because you don’t know nothing else. You don’t know how to release your mind from that, use your imagination to carry yourself out. That’s what I did with the music; I used my creativity and my imagination to get me out of the situation I was in. If you don’t have an outlet, you might get taken out.
Do you still keep close ties to Gary?
Yeah, I basically live there. I just live in L.A. to handle my business. My family and all of my friends, they’re still there. I ain’t never detached myself from Gary. I’m there every month because I got grown people there that I take care of. But that’s how it’s always been for me. I’ve always played that role in my family. The breadwinner.
What are some positive things about Gary?
We have good, neighborly people in Gary. Those Midwest values, you know what I’m saying? My mother and my stepfather, they’re in the process of starting a church. Not just a church to preach to people on Sunday, but something active in the neighborhood to do things for the community. I’m trying to help them with that because, like I said, people just don’t have an outlet. If you provide some type of hope for them, I think they’ll be more motivated to do better. Because when you seeing nothing but destruction around you everyday, that's what you’re going to settle for. I just wasn’t one to settle for that. I think things can improve.
What are people like in L.A. compared to Gary?
Weirdos. [Laughs.] Nah, man, the crazy part about it is, it don’t always be the people from L.A. that are the weirdos. It's people that come there from other places. They get turned out by the weird shit that goes on. There’s good people out there, too. It’s definitely not the same, but I love it. I live there. I ain’t going nowhere. The weed, the weather, and the bitches—you can’t beat that.
What are some Midwest things that you miss while you're there?
Family. That’s all. If I could just have all of my family there all the time, that would be cool, but other than that I don’t miss nothing about it. It’s just the people of Gary that keep me [tied there]. Knowing that I’m doing something for them, that keeps me going. A small group of people from a city of underdogs. I feel like I’m the voice for them because they don’t really have a voice. Coming up, we never really had that voice to look up to in my city. Ain’t nobody from Gary. Michael Jackson, of course, but it’s like the world stole him from us.
What did the Jacksons do for Gary?
Gary really didn’t benefit from Michael Jackson being from Gary. Not saying that the Jacksons owe us a damn thing; they don’t owe us a dime. But I think that them being there and their struggle should have been, you know, something that they could of looked at more, because obviously they documented it in their story. “Oh, yeah; we’re from Gary. Gary, Indiana.” They never hid it. Their story is based off of this family in this tiny-ass house in Gary, coming up. That’s the beauty of their story, that they came up from that. But they didn’t give back to that. At all. At all. I love Michael Jackson to death. Janet Jackson, shit—she still give a nigga wet dreams. But they do nothing in the community. And like I said, it don’t always got to take money. Just their influence alone in the world. Some type of presence in Gary would bring businesses to Gary, you know, all types of things. It could’ve created jobs. They could have done a festival or some shit. The Jacksons are just the biggest fucking family in music from our city, but we don’t really see that. All you see now is is that little fucking house they grew up in, all gated off. Like it’s something sacred.
Do they have it preserved?
Now they do. Since Michael Jackson died. Before he died that shit was just a regular-ass crack house.
Was somebody living there?
There was a nigga living in there. I don’t know who he was, but he was definitely smoking crack. But since Mike died, they got it all gated off, like it’s a landmark. And you try to separate that with the rest of the fiber of the city, but you can't. At the end of the day, that shit is just as fucked up as another fucking crack house, you know what I’m saying, just one with a goddamn gate around it. I love the Jacksons but…
It pisses you off.
Like I said, man, I’m going to be the voice for my people, so I don’t really give a fuck. I just wish that more of the Jackson influence was in the city. That’s just how I feel. Nobody is asking for them to go around and hand out money to the people out in Gary. Nah. I just wish that their influence was felt more in our city, as it’s felt around the world.
I know you said your mother and your stepfather are working on a church, what kind of plans do you have?
Definitely not fucking with no church. I don’t go to church; I just support my mom in whatever she does. I just want to keep being able to to make music and work with cool people. I love my job, and I don’t want to give it up. I got into this to be the voice of my area and sustain myself financially in the process. I don’t give a fuck about being the richest rapper. I mean, I’ll take it, but I just want to be able to move and take care of those around me and be comfortable. That’s all that matters to me. I want some Jay-Z money, though, shit. If he want to break some bread, we can break some bread. I’m just trying to have fun for sure.
Is the reaction different in Gary when you go back now?
I get more pussy. You fucking bitches that you went to high school with that you couldn’t fuck back then, but now you can fuck easy. That’s really the only difference. The dudes and stuff, it’s the same shit. If you had respect on the street before rap, ain’t shit really different. Same niggas that fucked with me is the same niggas that still fuck with me now. Now they just support me more. You're always going to have haters. If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t doing something right. I try to get a new hater everyday. A new hater and a new bitch, everyday. It’s crazy, but it's fun. There’s a lot of motherfuckers that get up and they hate they job; they want to shoot themself in the morning. I can't do that; life’s too short. Niggas having heart attacks in their early 30s. That ain’t going to be me, man. I’m going to be smoking a blunt. I’m going to be the first person to die of a marijuana overdose. That’s my prayer.